Takashi Miyazawa leads a break at this year's Milan-San Remo

PARIS (AFP) — Saxo Bank has signed Japanese veteran Takashi Miyazawa on a one-year deal, team manager and owner Bjarne Riis announced Friday.

“In my opinion Takashi is a rider that has proven to be worthy of a chance to become part of a World Tour team,” Riis said in a team statement. “He has a very professional approach to his sport, he is always willing to contribute to the team and at the same time he is a genuine guy.

“He is an aggressive rider and has solid abilities as a puncheur. So I’m happy to welcome him onboard.”

Miyazawa joins Saxo Bank-SunGard from Farnese Vini, with whom he won the Belgian race Izegem Koerse in September. He was also fifth in the Paris-Brussels classic.

“I’m thrilled to become part of a team competing at the top level of professional cycling, and I’m even more thrilled that the team is Saxo Bank-SunGard,” said Miyazawa. “This is my first go at a World Tour team, but I’m not a rookie after years of racing in Europe.

“Of course my main goal for next season is to keep improving and do my very best to contribute to the team, but if I get the chance to win a race, I’ll certainly go for it. Now I’m just looking forward to get started,” Miyazawa adds.

Riis has also recently signed 24-year-old Dane Troels Vinther, a former stage winner at the Tour de l’Avenir, and Leopard-Trek rider Bruno Pires, a 30-year-old Portuguese. Dane Anders Lund, 26, also returns to Saxo Bank following a brief spell at Leopard, as does 35-year-old Dutchman Karsten Kroon, who joins from BMC on a two-year deal.